The text covers only the memorable parts of English history, starting with the memorable Roman Emperor Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55 B.C., one of the only two memorable dates in English History (the other being, of course, William the Conqueror, Ten Sixty-six), and giving special attention to all the Good Things that happened to make England C. of E. and Top Nation.
The book also includes several Test Papers, as well as a few Errata.
Craig Brown of Private Eye wrote a continuation entitled 1966 And All That, written in a careful imitation of the style and going up to the early years of the twenty-first century.
Kate Charlesworth and Marsaili Cameron published a graphic novel alternative version in 1986 entitled All That... : The Other Half of History, that plays off the absence of women from the original.
Tropes memorably appearing in English History:
- And That's Terrible: "King James slobbered at the mouth and had favorites. He was thus a Bad King".
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Though both Good Kings and Bad Kings are recognized, all Barons in history are wicked, with the sole exception of Simon de Montfort.
- Black and White Morality: Played for laughs throughout with kings being divided arbitrarily into Good and Bad kings.
- Buried Alive: Implied to have happened somehow to Edward I, who "died of suffocation at a place called Burrow-in-the-Sands."
- Canis Latinicus: The book describes the cause of Henry I's death as a surfeit of palfreys. This is noted on a genealogical chart of kings as "obit surfeiti palfreyorum," or "o.s.p." for short. (Normally, "o.s.p." is an abbreviation for "obit sine prole," meaning having died without issue.)
- Composite Character: "The memorable Dutch King Williamanmary." Who is an orange.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Order of the Bath "was an extreme form of torture in the Middle Ages."
- Dead All Along: Queen Anne's reign ended when it was discovered that she had been dead all the time.
- Decomposite Character: Henry IV, Parts I and II.
- Divine Right of Kings: Parodied. The Divine Right of Kings, as explained by Charles I, said that:(a) He was King, and that was right.
(b) Kings were divine, and that was right.
(c) Kings were right, and that was right.
(d) Everything was all right.
- Driven to Suicide: [The Duke of] Clarence drowned himself in Malmsey upon realizing that he was named Clarence.
- Drop the Hammer: One illustration shows Edward I, "Malleus Scotorum" (Hammer of the Scots), raising a hammer over a prone Scotsman.
- Kissing the Ground: The first action William I (1066) undertook in conquering England was lying down on the beach where he landed and swallowing two mouthfuls of sand.
- Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Invoked in regards to Charles I, who "walked and talked Half an hour after his Head was cut off", which seems to say that king paradoxically survived his own decapitation. The implication is that this is a misunderstanding of the more sensible sentence "[Charles I] walked and talked. Half an hour after, his head was cut off."
- No Sense of Humor: Queen Victoria "remained obdurately plural and not amused" throughout her reign despite the best efforts of her subjects to amuse her.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Cromwell is not to be confused with Cromwell, and Walpole is not to be confused with Walpole.
- Running Gag:
- Kings dying after a surfeit of something.
- Warning the reader not to confuse two different historical figures (King Alfred and King Arthur, Robert Bruce and William Wallace, Lamnel Simkin and Percy Warmneck), then promptly doing so.
- Sand In My Eyes: Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace since he "although (as is well known) he had not thought to shed a tear about all this, did ultimately shed a memorable one."
- Sarcasm Mode: When it comes to things being done romantically.
- Theme Naming: The Anglo-Saxon wave of Egg-kings.
- Too Cool to Live: Henry V. Mary, Queen of Scots, on the other hand, is too romantic to live.
- Underdogs Never Lose: The English become used to winning battles against long odds, to the point of losing some battles where they outnumber the enemy.On Bannockburn: Accustomed to fight against heavy odds the English were uneasy, and when the Scots were unexpectedly reinforced by a large body of butlers with camp stools the English soldiers mistook them for a fresh army of Englishmen and retreated in disgust.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: If you're not familiar with English history, most of the jokes won't make any sense to you.
- White Man's Burden: During a wave of Justifiable Wars with China, Burma, Abyssinia, etc., "Spheres of Interference were discovered: these were necessary in all Countries inhabited by their own natives."
- Written by the Winners: "Broody Mary's reign was, however, a Bad Thing, since England is bound to be C. of E., so all the executions were wasted."